As I write this is the day Prince Philip died, having reached the grand old age of 99. He had stood beside the Queen as her consort for over 70 years, a constant source of strength and support. He may have made the occasional gaffe, and he wasn’t always the most politically correct, but I have no doubt that the Queen often sought his wise counsel. We should not underestimate his contribution to this country.
Covid restrictions will impact on his funeral, but he had already made it clear that he didn’t want a state funeral, considering himself not worthy of such an honour. Questions have already been asked about whether Harry and Meghan will attend his funeral, and you can almost hear the journalistic vultures gather. Let’s hope Prince Philip’s funeral isn’t turned into a sideshow for salacious gossip. We have eight days of mourning for Prince Philip, and let’s in that time show him some respect for the good he has done, whether or not we are admirers of the Royal Family.
I can’t help but compare today’s happenings with what happened when Jesus died. We’re doing it right for Prince Philip, but how different it was for Jesus. When Prince Philip died the news quickly spread around the world. I turned on the TV at about 5pm and discovered the major terrestrial channels had abandoned normal programming to focus on Prince Philip’s death. It was the right thing to do. Having eight days of mourning is the right thing to do. Flags will be flown at half mast. That’s right. Tomorrow’s papers will headline Prince Philip’s death and have page after page about him. That’s also the right thing to do.
When Jesus died the only people who knew were those who observed his crucifixion, or who had been involved in his arrest and trials. No one sent a messenger to Rome to inform Caesar. If there was anything like a Jerusalem Times his death might have made the back page at best. There were no days of mourning, since the only ones who cared were his disciples. The day after his death it was back to normality in Jerusalem. They ignored Jesus, the man they had crucified, the rebel, the trouble maker, the criminal, and enjoyed their Passover meal without seeing the irony in what they were doing. The Passover was not only a reminder of their freedom from slavery in Egypt, it was a pointer to what Jesus was doing on the cross. He was freeing them from sin by dying in their place. The lamb that was sacrificed in each home in Egypt was a picture of Jesus, the Lamb of God who was sacrificed for our sins.
When Jesus was taken down from the cross hardly anyone witnessed it, and the same is true when he was buried in a tomb. We already know where Prince Philip’s funeral will take place and where he will be buried. Hardly anyone knew where Jesus was buried, and today no one knows. What you see if you visit his supposed tomb in Jerusalem is a best guess.
When Jesus went missing from the tomb he still didn’t make the news. In fact his disappearance was played down, and false rumours were spread to undermine the truth that he had risen from the dead. It was weeks later before he made headlines, so to speak, when his disciples openly stood up in front of thousands of people and said, “God has made this Jesus, whom you crucified, both Lord and Messiah.” (1) As a result 3000 people came to faith in Christ i.e. they came to believe that the one they had crucified was truly the Son of God who died taking the punishment for their sins. They committed to living for him and it wasn’t long before it was being said, “These men … have turned the world upside down.” (2)
That’s exactly what they did. Jesus is now known throughout the world and millions worship him as “King of kings and Lord of lords.” (3) That’s who he is. Jesus whose death was hardly noticed at the time is the King of kings. If we honour a prince, which we should do, how much more should we honour the King. In honouring him we should also follow him.
- Acts 2:36
- Acts 17:6
- Revelation 19:16